Sunday, June 12, 2005

Circumstantial Evidence

A couple of days ago, feeling a sense of despair over my situation, I recalled what I believed was the defining moment in my decision to leave my job. It was nothing monumental...only one more pin prick in an entire series of pin pricks that was bleeding me dry.

I won't go into detail, but it was a moment that showed me very clearly that, even if I were to follow my supervisor's instructions perfectly, it by no means assured that she would be satisfied with my job performance, nor that her personal attacks on me would cease.

In that moment, I recalled what Christ had told His disciples in Matthew 10...that if they went to a town that would not receive them, they were to shake the dust of that place off their feet as they left. And that was what I believed that God was telling me to do...shake the dust of that place off my feet, and leave. Being there served no purpose any longer.

In the three weeks since I left my job, I have had plenty of time to consider this matter. I finally took the time to read the passage in its entirety, and was surprised by what I found.

My first surprise came in
Matthew 10:1 (NIV) " He called His twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to HEAL EVERY DISEASE AND SICKNESS."

This was a "well, duh" moment...It should have been pretty clear to me before reading that. My desire in working with folks with mental illness is not to dope them up on medication, and make that an end in itself. My desire is to be a facilitator of healing and recovery for these people. I think Jesus would agree.

While I am in no way dismissing the need for medication, or the valuable role it plays in a person's recovery, I am dismissing the idea that medication is in itself the key to recovery. Quite the contrary, in my humble, formerly medicated opinion. That is true for any illness. A cardiac patient on medication to lower their cholesterol cannot expect recovery if they continue to load up on cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Likewise, a mental health professional should not underestimate the absolute necessity of incorporating all aspects of healing into a person's treatment if they are seeking recovery. I think this is where I differ from other's in the field...I don't talk about recovery as if it is something that will never happen, or something that takes too much work.

ANYWAY...moving on...

Matthew 10:8 - 14 reads, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town."

Putting all of this together, I gather that Jesus saw His disciples as being capable of administering healing and deliverance through His authority, and not because they were all such wonderful, upstanding people. "Freely you have received, freely give", indicates to me that it is BECAUSE of their experience of healing and deliverance, not IN SPITE of it, that these men He sent out were such fitting vessels of His mercy.

These men, who Christ saw as being fitting vessels to carry His message and His mercies, were told that if anyone would not receive them, they were to leave that home or that village, and shake the dust of that place off their feet as they left. "Shake the dust off"...have nothing more to do with that place, symbollically ridding yourself of every connection to it.

Those were the words that sealed my decision regarding any potential lawsuits. Sure, I probably have the grounds to file a lawsuit, and enough evidence to win a nice settlement...but that would keep my feet more than dusty. I would be knee deep in the mud of that place, were I to proceed with legal action.

Verses 17-24 give clear warning to those who choose to go out in the name of Jesus and be His vessel in this dark world. In some ways, I experienced the very things mentioned here. My supervisor discredited me before my coworkers as well as clients, rendering me incapable of being taken seriously by anyone I worked with. Furthermore, she discredited me to her superiors, so any reports I gave of my reasons for leaving were quickly dismissed as being fictitious inventions of someone who,they need to keep in mind, is diagnosed with a mental illness.

As I read further, I was very encouraged by verse 26. It reads,
"Do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed."

This was encouraging, because it reminded me again that this battle is not mine. I am being obedient to what I believe God is asking of me, and letting Him handle this completely. Therefore, I can trust that, in His way, and in His time, He will reveal the truth.

This morning's church service was also very encouraging to me. Pastor Craig spoke of the importance of God's vision for our lives, and remaining dedicated to fulfilling that vision. He spoke of the reality that our circumstances, whatever they are, are preparing us for His greater purposes in our lives.

The circumstances I am in right now are not a sideline from what God's purpose is for me...These circumstances are all part of His preperation for fulfilling His purposes through me. I am in the midst of a process that is, in every sense, teaching me what it means to be fully relying on Him. Certainly, this is not something that is in any way less important than the desire He has given me to be a component of His grace in the mental health field. Contrarily, the things I am learning right now in the midst of my less than ideal circumstances are absolutely essential to what He has for me in the future.

In listening to the message this morning, I realized I had become so focused on the product, I had become unwilling to endure the process.

The desire of my heart is that God is glorified through me, and if He is going to be glorified more at this time with me working in a grocery store in my hometown than in me working for CMH in the town I would like to move to, then so be it.

I have also had to come to grips with the matter of my own pride. One major barrier that has kept me from applying for work where I am currently living is the possibility of seeing former coworkers, and being the subject of the gossip I am very certain will occur. However, this comes back to the part about the battle not being mine. Also, not being so impressed with myself that I think I am in any way above whatever means of provision God may have for me at this time.

God has a purpose here. I have said that from the beginning, but I am seeing the reality of that more as this process continues. God knows the losses I suffered when I left that job, and I believe it is in His plan to restore those things to me, in His time. In HIS time. Thriving where He has me right now is not settling for less. It is learning to be content in all things, and in doing so, allowing Him to prepare me for whatever is next...not losing sight of the vision He has given me, but allowing Him to take me through the process of achieving it.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Pardon my enthusiasm, but I see you as in the best place imaginable!

Yes - God is affirming all of your steps that you blindly and faithfully took because you love Him.

Yes - God's economy will use the pain of your past to vindicate His name and heal the world - through you.

Yes - Everything that is happening now is part of the mission He has for you. Always.

I am so encouraged by this post, Stefanie.
This really is an exciting time, isn't it?

I am in prime position for God to do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING in my life.

I have nothing. But, at the same time...I HAVE NOTHING. Isn't it wonderful? :)
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